Cultivating Sustainability: Sheffield Organic Growers

In Sheffield, amidst its industrial heritage, lies Sheffield Organic Growers – a hub of sustainability and community resilience. This thriving organic farm not only cultivates fresh, nutritious produce but also champions ethical sourcing, local economies, and environmental stewardship. At the core of their operations is a commitment to fostering a fairer and more sustainable food system, exemplified by their partnership with Organic North, a worker’s cooperative in Manchester committed to shortening supply chains and paying farmers better for the produce they grow. 

Sheffield Organic Growers stands out as more than just a farm; it is a nexus of sustainability initiatives that extend far beyond its fields. Through their fruit and veg box delivery scheme, they connect directly with consumers, offering them the opportunity to enjoy seasonal, locally-grown produce while supporting the local economy. This direct relationship between producer and consumer reduces carbon emissions associated with long-distance transportation and ensures fair prices for farmers and fresher, tastier produce for consumers.

One of the cornerstones of Sheffield Organic Growers’ sustainability efforts is their partnership with Organic North. This collaboration underscores the importance of regional networks and cooperative models in building a resilient and equitable food system. By sourcing wholesale organic vegetables from Organic North, Sheffield Organic Growers supports a fellow green organisation, promotes organic farming practices, and strengthens local supply chains. This partnership serves as a brilliant example of solidarity and mutual support within the organic farming community.

Moreover, Sheffield Organic Growers is committed to tackling food and packaging waste head-on. In a world where approximately one-third of all food produced is wasted, a zero-food waste approach is both commendable and necessary. Through innovative strategies such as composting and veg bags made from sustainable jute, they demonstrate that it is possible to minimise waste.

Organic North is also committed to a low-waste operation which benefits Sheffield Organic Growers too. They run a unique pre-ordering system that ensures that they only supply the freshest produce and produce no waste. The vast majority of what they sell is loose and plastic-free. They also explore compostable alternatives to any plastic that their growers use and run a return service for empty boxes.

These practices reduce environmental impact, alleviate food insecurity, and promote a circular economy. They benefit the planet and the economy at the same time. However, Sheffield Organic Growers and thousands of farmers in the UK need to continue to survive and thrive if they are to invest in nature-friendly farming practices.

The ethos of Sheffield Organic Growers aligns perfectly with the values espoused by the ‘Get Fair About Farming’ campaign initiated by Riverford, another pioneering organic farm. They reported that almost half (49%) of British fruit and veg farmers fear they will go out of business within the next 12 months. 75% report that supermarket behaviour is a leading factor. The campaign seeks to transform the way we produce, distribute, and consume food. With five core principles that supermarkets need to be bound to; buy what you committed to buy, pay on time, commit for the long term, agree on fair specifications and pay what you agreed to pay

This campaign, which garnered an impressive 100,000 signatures in a petition to parliament, underscores the growing public demand for a fairer, more sustainable food system for UK farmers. The success of the ‘Get Fair About Farming’ campaign highlights the growing momentum behind the organic and UK farming movement and the increasing recognition of its role in addressing pressing environmental and social challenges. The fact that the government debated the petition in January 2024 signifies a crucial step forward.

During the debate, there was strong support from both sides of the chamber for British farmers, with recognition of the public backing for our petition. However, Mark Spencer, the DEFRA Minister, didn’t believe that amending the Grocery Supply Code was the most effective way to protect farmers, though he did acknowledge the need for better support for them. There was a general consensus that farmers must be compensated fairly so that they can continue to safeguard the countryside and promote environmental protection. Many MPs highlighted the issue of food security, the negative impact of recent trade deals, and the importance of domestic food production for ensuring our national food security.

In response to the Minister’s comments, Riverford’s founder, Guy Singh-Watson said: “While it was great to hear unanimous and cross-party support for all aspects of our petition, it is certain there is still some way to go to achieve real fairness for farmers. We hope that with the groundswell of support behind the Get Fair About Farming campaign, we can shine a light onto the bullying behaviour of supermarkets and their suppliers, and push for a return of honesty and decency to our supply chains.”

Sheffield Organic Growers’ commitment to sustainability, community empowerment, and ethical sourcing exemplifies the values championed by the ‘Get Fair About Farming’ campaign. As advocates for a fairer and more sustainable food system, they are not only cultivating delicious organic produce but also sowing the seeds of positive change by being a small but mighty part of a growing movement. Like many of their Sheffield counterparts in our local food system, they are demonstrating that a better world is possible, one harvest at a time.

To learn more about Sheffield Organic Growers, visit their website at;